The Quad Cities River Bandits only had a three-run fifth inning for their offensive output at Wisconsin Thursday afternoon, but left-hander Colton Cain, right-hander Mike Hauschild and right-hander John Neely combined to keep the home team to a single run in a 3-1 win in the deciding game of a three-game series at Time Warner Cable Field at Fox Cities Stadium.
In a game with five errors, two unconventional double plays and other assorted oddities, the starting pitchers - Cain for Quad Cities and right-hander Austin Blaski (2-1) for Wisconsin began by matching each other with four scoreless innings. Quad Cities loaded the bases in the fourth inning on a walk, single and Blaski's first of two errors on bunt attempts. With the bases loaded and no outs, catcher Roberto Pena grounded to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who tagged out baserunner Jesse Wierzbicki going from second to third, and then tagged Miles Hamblin, who had only gone a short distance from third base. Quad Cities right fielder Ariel Ovando struck out swinging to end the inning still in a scoreless tie. The River Bandits (23-16) had their first quirky defensive play in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Timber Rattlers second baseman Chris McFarland grounded to second baseman Austin Elkins, who misfired over the head of Wierzbicki at first base, but Pena grabbed the carom from the first-base dugout screen and fired to Wierzbicki, who tagged out McFarland after he had turned toward second base.
In the fifth inning, Elkins drew a leadoff walk and moved to second base on a single by left fielder Jordan Scott. When center fielder Teoscar Hernandez put a bunt to the third-base side of the pitcher's mound, Blaski fielded the ball and threw it past third baseman Jose Sermo, which allowed Elkins to score and each runner to advance two bases. Shortstop Carlos Correa brought in Scott with a groundout, and Hamblin singled home Hernandez for a 3-0 advantage. Wisconsin answered in the fifth inning when Arcia hit a leadoff single against Cain, and left fielder Tyrone Taylor hit an RBI double to left-center field. After Cain retired right fielder Michael Reed on a groundout, manager Omar Lopez brought in Hauschild - the first second starter of a tandem to enter in the middle of an inning this season. Center fielder Mitch Haniger singled to put runners at first and third base before Hauschild induced an inning-ending double play, keeping it 3-1. Hauschild also escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the seventh by getting Reed to line out and Haniger to fly out.
Each team made the final out of its ninth inning by catching a baserunner going past third base. Right-hander Jono Armold induced a one-out ground ball by Hernandez that led to a force out at second, a late throw to first and a throw to get Ovando rounding third. Neely allowed two walks in the bottom half, before Haniger to hit a two-out grounder that caromed off third baseman Ryan Dineen into shallow left field, where Correa stopped it and threw to Dineen, who ran down Arcia and threw to Pena for the final out as Arcia left the basepath.
The River Bandits begin a four-game series with Beloit at 7 p.m. Friday, when Quad Cities left-hander Brian Holmes (3-2) and right-hander Jordan Jankowski (2-0) will face Snappers right-hander Seth Streich (3-2).